Kuntzman: Length of Thanksgiving break leaves students on campus

Caroline Kuntzman, Staff Columnist

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For many Americans, Thanksgiving is a time spent with family. For college students living far from home, Thanksgiving break might be the first time they see their families since the beginning of the school year. Thanksgiving breaks are a standard part of most academic calendars, but their durations can vary greatly. Some institutions, such as Carleton College, have several weeks for Thanksgiving breaks as their trimester schedules are conducive to combining it with their winter break. Others, such as the College of William and Mary, have shorter breaks, but still give students the day before Thanksgiving off. 

At Case Western Reserve University, Thanksgiving break does not begin until the day of Thanksgiving, making it difficult for students intending to go home. Some professors may opt to cancel their classes, especially if said classes are in the afternoon or evening, but they are under no obligation to do so, leaving some students unable to leave campus until Wednesday evening. 

If the majority of CWRU students lived near Cleveland, this would not be an issue, but given the dominant out-of-state student demographics, as is typical for private universities, many students have a long drive or flight home. Parents may need to pick up students who do not have cars. For families hosting Thanksgiving dinner or travelling far for the holiday, this can present a logistical nightmare as they prepare their homes for guests or pack to travel elsewhere. 

For those driving home to states in the South or West, it may not be possible to get home in a single day. Driving times for cities such as Atlanta, Dallas and Minneapolis are all over 10 hours. Attempting to do any of these in a single day would be difficult. Students flying home may have it even worse. USA Today states that the day before Thanksgiving is among the top 10 worst days to be in an airport. And for nearly all international students, traveling home for this break is completely out of the realm of possibilities.

This holiday schedule leaves only three choices for students with Wednesday classes that live far away: deal with the logistics of getting home the day before Thanksgiving, skip class to get home or stay on campus for Thanksgiving break. None of these options are ideal. Students are at CWRU to learn, but they should also be able to spend holidays with their families. They shouldn’t have to choose between classes and family. Thanksgiving break doesn’t necessarily need to be as long as it is at colleges such as Carleton, but adding on as little as a day could make a huge difference for students intending to go home for Thanksgiving. Students flying home could avoid the day before Thanksgiving rush and those driving long distances can more easily make it a two day journey. 

For students staying on campus for Thanksgiving, there are several events happening on and around CWRU that they can attend. Cleveland’s 37th annual Turkey Trot is scheduled for Thanksgiving morning. Contestants can run a mile, five kilometer or five mile course and can also enter a costume contest.

Thanksgiving meals will also be available in the area. Tomlinson Hall will be serving a Thanksgiving lunch the Wednesday before break. Several restaurants in the area will be serving Thanksgiving dinner. A list of these restaurants is available at cleveland.com.